It helps when you have a local showing you the sights and sounds in and around Austin, Texas. You get to stop by at towns and places that you didn’t know existed, until you walked in and had a crash course in history. Like Fischer Historical District.
Texas wasn’t what I expected it to be. Sure, I had seen plenty of movies and read enough to mentally paint a picture of this state, its cities and towns. But what I didn’t expect was to immerse myself into the history of some of these innocuous sounding towns.
A few years ago, I found myself in Austin, enjoying its warmth over the New Year holidays instead of the chill that had set over New York. On one of those relaxed days, my friends decided that we should drive out of the city to experience its many sights and flavours. Who was I to disagree. After all, it’s not every other day that I go visiting Texas, or the US for that matter.
After exploring Wimberley and Gruene, we decided to stop for a quick bite and refreshments. Which is how we found ourselves in this quaint little town called Fischer. It’s now a Historical District, but it wasn’t so when I visited.
The town gets its name from Hermann and Otto Fischer, two German immigrant brothers who decided to call this area home. They quickly went about building a self-sufficient community that would rely on agriculture and ranching. They also proceeded to build a few buildings including a general store, a post office and a few other buildings – enough to satisfy the needs of the community.
It’s still a community-led town today too. Depending on who you speak with, it has a population of about 700 odd people. However, the locals aver that it consists of just about a dozen odd families. And life for this community has, and continues to, revolve around the post office and a few old halls and buildings that form the core of this town. It’s two of these that my friends insisted on showing me.
The hall has stood on this very ground since the end of the 19th century. It initially started as a community school. However, the friendly community, upon realising that perhaps they didn’t want to be too friendly with their neighbours a little down the road at Cranes Mill, especially during dances. They got themselves a one-eyed carpenter and proceeded to convert this hall into a proper venue where the community could organise their weddings, dances and parties.
Sure enough, when we landed a little late that evening, there was a party in full swing. Ordinarily, while I would have loved to gate-crash this party, my friends assured me it might not be the wisest thing to do.
While I haven’t heard too much of his music, or seen the movie, turns out Willie Nelson shot part of the 1980 movie, ‘Honeysuckle Rose’, right here.
Fischer Bowling Club
Right next door to Fischer Hall is the Fischer Bowling Club. Built immediately after the hall, this is no ordinary bowling alley. Unlike the 10-in lanes that we know of, these lanes allow for nine-pin bowling – something that is unique to Texas Hill County and nowhere else in the US. That’s not all, in this version, you are expected to either knock off all nine pins or knock them all down barring one solitary red pin.
There is also no automation here. If you want to keep score, scribble it down on a chalkboard. And after every strike, the pins are manually set by pinsetters, in this case, teenagers from the community.
Did I mention, they have their own teams too – ‘Beer Drinkin’ and ‘Bad Bowlin’ among some of them.